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The Saved and the Damned: Soteriology and Religious Encounter

Workshop

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‘Salvation’ is a fundamental concept across religious traditions and contexts. Various salvation schemes could be applicable to individuals, communities or even entire nations. Often a religious encounter, whether in the form of conflict or transfer, could centre on the discourse about salvation. Adherents of different religions who come into contact for a variety of reasons elaborate various ideas on who is saved and who is not; they may use soteriology to underline or justify various individual or collective actions, such as mission, conversion or military conquest in the name of a new religion; eventually new salvation models can develop out of religious contact. The purpose of this two-day workshop is to explore these and other aspects of soteriology in inter and intra-religious and spatial contexts. The set of questions to be explored will focus on elaborating on such issues as the soteriology of ‘the other’ compared to the soteriology of one’s own religious community; what can this tell us about inter-religious contact; can we detect borrowings and/or cross-fertilisation of ideas on soteriology from one religion to the other and if so, can the process be described; what modifications ‘borrowed’ ideas on soteriology undergo in different cultural and religious contexts; can adherents of ‘rival’ religious groups be saved and if so, how; is there a religious polemic couched in a soteriological discourse, and so forth. Another set of questions will focus on the spatial aspect of the ‘salvation’ discourse, This could refer to specific physical space, certain locations such as shared sites, which were/are significant from a soteriological point of view. The latter may refer to both natural (e.g. holy mountains, springs, etc.) or man-made sites (a commonly venerated shrine, saint’s grave, etc.). But meta-physical space where (usually after-life) salvation takes place will also be considered. In this respect, again the inter-religious aspects of such spaces will be considered: what happens there to one’s own religious community’s members and how are the others treated; how accessibly such meta-physical spaces could be to the members of the other groups, and what kind of actual information one could gain from such analysis about real interactions between peoples of different religions. Religions to be taken into consideration will include Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Daoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Manichaeism, including variations of those when appropriate.

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